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NEWS Name of hero dog will be kept alive at Animal Rehabilitation Center in Kocaeli

22 Feb 2023

After the Kahramanmaraş-based earthquakes, a dog named “Proteo”, who served in the search and rescue team from Mexico, lost his life during the rescue work. The hero dog's name will be kept alive at the Stray Animal Rehabilitation Center built in Kocaeli.

Earthquakes of magnitude 7.7 and 7.6, the epicentre of Kahramanmaras, caused great destruction in 10 provinces. Search and rescue teams worldwide were sent to Turkey to support the race against time to rescue citizens under the wreckage, alive after the earthquakes. A dog named Proteo, part of a 10-person rescue team from Mexico had become the hope of many lives. But, unfortunately, the hero dog lost his life during search and rescue efforts. Proteo's trainer Carlos Villed who was taken to his country after the Mexican team completed its work and was greeted with applause explained in a statement that the dog died due to old age, not by being dented, as claimed on social media.


The Başiskele Municipality in Kocaeli undersigned a meaningful decision. The hero dog's name was given to the recently completed construction of the Stray Animal Rehabilitation Center, where many more needs such as treatment, care, nutrition and rehabilitation of stray animals will be met.

The memory of Proteo, which has become one of the symbols of the earthquake, will be kept alive at the nursing home established on an area of approximately 6 thousand 100 square meters, consisting of a 164 square meter administrative building and 435 square meter shelters. In the centre are two veterinary rooms, an operating room, an examination room, a seminar room and a waiting room in the administrative building.


Mayor of Başiskele stated on the subject, saying, “We were preparing for the opening of the street animal rehabilitation centre. Unfortunately, we had the disaster of the century, and in this disaster, search and rescue teams and dogs came to our country all over the world. Among them, our dog, Proteo, who participated in search and rescue activities in Turkey, lost his life during search and rescue operations. Therefore, we decided to give the name of our dog Proteo who served Mexico for many years and lost his life in our country and was welcomed by Mexicans with a ceremony at our street animal rehabilitation centre. The name Proteo will be remembered in this stray animal rehabilitation centre for many years; he will live here.”

Astray animal rehabilitation centre in Türkiye’s northwestern province of Kocaeli was named after a Mexican rescue dog, Proteo, who died while saving lives in the ruins left behind by the deadly Feb. 6 earthquakes in the southeastern region of the country.

The centre was built on 6,100 square meters (around 65,660 square feet) in the Sepetlipınar neighbourhood by Başiskele municipality in Kocaeli. The dog that worked in rescue operations alongside the Mexican team in Adıyaman province was one of the many trained animals brought up by international groups to help in the search operations following powerful 7.7 and 7.6 earthquakes that struck Türkiye and neighbouring Syria, leaving thousands dead.

Proteo garnered national and international attention as it helped save at least two lives from under the rubble before being severely injured in the line of duty. As a result, an administrative building was established in the centre on an area of 164 square meters, while the shelter was based on an area of 435 square meters.

Proteo's photograph and an introductory panel in Turkish and Spanish were also displayed in front of the centre.

“Proteo had participated in search and rescue efforts in Türkiye, where he arrived after the earthquake disaster on Feb. 6. A member of a military police brigade in Mexico City, Proteo was born on Jun. 13, 2013, and was almost nine years and eight months old when he died on Feb. 12, 2023,” read the introductory panel.

“The death of Proteo was unfortunate in Mexico and Türkiye. However, as Başiskele Municipality, our street animal care home was named after Proteo, in honour of all the search and rescue dogs that saved hundreds of people, found thousands of explosives, and served humanity in many fields,” it read further.

In a post on his social media account, Mehmet Yasin Özlü, the mayor of Başiskele Municipality, said that the work on the rehabilitation centre has just ended, adding: “We named our centre after Proteo, who served Mexico for many years. Proteo’s name will be remembered in this centre for years.”

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